Mercernary: The Songs of Johnny Mercer
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by Tracy M. Rogers
On his latest album Mercernary: The Songs of Johnny Mercer, prolific New Orleans piano man Dr. John takes on the music of 1950s lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer, and in effect, he re-imagines Mercerís pop standards by employing an intriguing blend of blues, jazz, funk, and R&B. Imbued with touches of surreal saxophone, heavy bass, jazzy guitar, and, of course, Dr. Johnís trademark, blues-based piano, the production values on Mercernary are at once minimalist and rollicking, producing a full sound that is unblemished by feedback or studio tricks. Tracks like the slowly simmering Lazy Bones and the sultry, oft-covered love song Come Rain or Come Shine become fresh and new, as do the energetic, funk-infused You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby and the playful, Motown-driven swing of Save the Bones for Henry Jones. The jazzy instrumentals Tangerine and Iím an Old Cowhand provide a nice showcase not only for Dr. John and his band, but also for the intricacy of Mercerís compositions. The albumís lone original (I Ainít No Johnny Mercer) is a sexy, come-hither tribute to Mercerís skills as a songwriter. Only the slightly off-kilter rhythm of Blues in the Night and the cloying vocals and irritating saxophone solo of Personality fall flat. In spite of these two misses, Mercernary succeeds both as a timeless songbook and as an album in its own right because it highlights Dr. Johnís musical innovations as well as Mercerís musical genius. Ĺ
Mercernary: The Songs of Johnny Mercer is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box